Everywhere, there are organizations representing artists. Canada, Australia, England, California… heck, France has gone so far that they’ve got artists representing organizations. Alone in Germany, my location, there are unions for freelancers, artist coops, digital worker’s and animation guilds – all of which are vying for my membership.
Heated debates spring up in fairly regular intervals with various flavors of recurring arguments: “if you’re any good at what you do then you don’t need a union“ vs “organization is necessary to establish fair practices“.
As I’ve been following these discussions amongst animators for some time, I thought I’d summarize what I want from an organization that represents my work, and what I don’t want.
Awareness, Politics and Public Relations
Yeah, forget the pricing standards. I find it much more important that a representation has the clout, position and understanding necessary to get a message out. To get the museums and journals and magazines to understand what value the visual element brings them, at what cost to the artist / scientist / team with what skill set required. To get the governments to understand the role of this work in the larger context of research, outreach, education and regional competitiveness. To trigger sincere discussions among artists, scientists and publishing channels.
I view this as an important extension of the “educating-my-clients” work that I have to do myself.
Preparation of muster contracts and information about the meaning of the clauses, access to lawyers when I need one.
Not long ago, if an advertising agency accepted an unpaid pitch – as one of often 6 agencies – they’d be outed by the various journals in the industry as having contributed to this destructive practice. As a result, agencies were hesitant to accept such conditions and client corporations learned that this was an unacceptable thing to request. Even without naming names, knowing what is the going rate is an important parcel of information – one which feelancers are fairly unwilling to exchange themselves. It’s an important gage of your value to the client. Fortunately, Tess Kissinger has gone most of the way in gathering and sharing this information for paleoartists:
Copyrights, Contracts, & Guidelines for Dinosaur Artists & Paleontologists
by Tess Kissinger
It would be interesting to see how regional or technical differences affect rates, which could be gathered in the form of polls.
Freelancers are always educating themselves. Offerings that make this more possible are always welcome, especially if they are broken down into bits and pieces that don’t cost much because they are presented in the form of download-able tutorials, videos or muster files.
Of course nothing beats person-to-person exchanges, so perhaps a sponsored tour could be arranged, information to offerings from other institutions or Things like Mike Habib’s artist meeting at SVP are all very welcome.
I was surprised buy this one when I read it in but indeed, 34% of Illustratoren Organisation rated this very important and 30.8% important.
Platform and exchange of information
There’s a whole gambit of community platform which is currently spread out amongst deviant art, artEvolved and a slew of blogs, sculptor and artist forums. Most established artists will certainly have their own internet platform but younger ones would certainly enjoy the opportunity to have a portfolio amongst other like-minded artists within a platform that invited potential clients to browse them – particularly if the whole thing is cross-indexed from various points of view: species, technique, artist location, reconstruction type, consulting scientist, paper references, etc. Activities such as speed-paints, challenges and themed galleries could create some community vibe and forums could create a structured venue to gather feedback and polish one’s craft. Access to papers might be more easily arranged. And of course, job forums could be posted, for whatever amount anyone pitches… the main thing is not to dictate prices but to make the environment in which they are pitched transparent.
Over at cgheute, German cg artists vote on how much they’d pay for the priviledge of representation. 55% say 10 to 20 Euros a month with only 5% willing to pay more than that. In a branch where the mean earnings hover around 300 Euros a day for experienced artists. We’re stingy bastards.
So… that’s my list. What’s yours?